Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Trusler, 6 February 1765

From John Trusler1

Engraved form with MS insertions in blanks: American Philosophical Society

London February 6th. 176 5


The Literary Society desirous of extending their Scheme, and rendering it as general as possible, have presumed to enclose one of their Plans, and are induced to hope, should it meet with your Approbation, for the Honour of your Name as a Subscribing Member, and for any further Encouragement you may think proper to assist them with. An Answer directed to me opposite the High House, King Street, Covent Garden, will be esteemed a Favour, by the Collective Body. I am Sir In the Name of the Society, Your most obedient humble Servant.

Jno. Trusler

Addressed: To / Dr. Franklin.

1John Trusler (1735–1820), B.A., Cambridge, 1757, was a man of remarkable versatility, being at various times in his career an Anglican minister, a doctor, the proprietor of an oratorical academy, a bookseller, and a printer. In 1765 or a short time earlier Trusler conceived and promoted the Literary Society, described in a prospectus, The Plan of the Literary Society (London, 1765), the object of which was “nothing less than a revolution in the world of literature by the abolition of publishers.” Trusler’s intention was essentially to make the Literary Society itself a publishing house, which would print and, because of the subscriptions of its members, be able to bear the losses on any worthy work. If the work were profitable, the Society would deduct the “customary profits” taken by commercial publishers and pay the authors the remainder of the proceeds. Apparently the Society never progressed beyond Trusler’s imagination. DNB; 4 Notes and Queries, III, 421–2.

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